Thursday, January 28, 2010

“Are You A Leader Or A Follower?” – Prof.M.S.Rao

"Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it." - Dwight D Eisenhower

When you look at leaders like Obama, Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, they all have one common thing. They are all the followers of the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi. These personalities excelled as leaders as they were good followers. Therefore, you need to a follower first to excel as a leader. However, people interpret being a follower is a sign of weakness. On the contrary, it is a symbol of strength.

Plato was the follower of Socrates. Aristotle was the follower of Plato. Alexander the Great was the follower of Aristotle. Why did all these leaders succeed? It is because there were all followers of their leaders and learnt the ropes and evolved as leaders in their areas.

You frequently hear about leadership. But hearing about followership appears to be strange, right? Followership helps in getting into the shoes of others and empathizing with others thus excelling as a leader. If you want to become a leader you must first know about followership.

Characteristics of Followers:

“Follower’ is not a term of weakness, but the condition that permits leadership to exist and gives it strength.” - Ira Chaleff

• Good followers never blame their bosses. They rarely blame their tools for non-performance. That doesn’t mean that they are ‘yes men’. They sort out privately whatever the differences and issues they have with their leaders.
• They never surprise their bosses. They keep them informed about the developments and the action taken. They continuously report with feedback and seek for directions and solutions.
• They don’t bother who receives credit for the good work done.
• They take initiative and fix the problems without blaming others.
• Humility is their hallmark.
• They are quiet doers and don’t make any noise about their achievements.
• They are passionate to learn and grow and are always eager to learn the ropes.
• They listen carefully and observe keenly.

In deference organizations, subordinates follow the orders of their superiors who in turn set examples to their followers and excelling as true leaders. However, we find few people in organizations who often blame their bosses and their organizations for all their problems. They rarely introspect and empathize. They prefer to criticize, condemn and complain against others. Such people cannot excel as good followers.

Followership and Leadership:

“The ultimate leader is one who is willing to develop people to the point that they eventually surpass him or her in knowledge and ability.” - Fred A. Manske, Jr.

It is unfair to assume followers as weak individuals. They follow their leaders because of the values and ethics of leaders. They support because they are moved by the goals and objectives. It is also equally unfair to think that leaders are puppeteers and followers are puppets. In many cases leaders are also followers as they act as per the wishes of their followers. Followership is a relationship with reciprocal response from their leaders towards the goals. Both leadership and followership are inseparable. Once the goals are reached then the leadership separates with followership where followers carry certain takeaways to try and test as leaders.

As men appreciate women the leaders appreciate their followers. However, the appreciation between the leaders and followers is that of values and principles and goals and objectives.


"The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on." - Walter Lippmann

Followers are more loyal to their leaders than the leaders being loyal to their followers. In the history of mankind we rarely see followers letting down their leaders. However, we find a few leaders letting down their followers and falling into the dustbins of history.

To sum up, behind the success of all leaders there must be someone who laid the leadership ladder for success when they remained as good followers. Only good followers can excel as good leaders as they inculcate the qualities of leadership from their leaders.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

How to Improve Your Soft Skills? - Prof.M.S.Rao

“You don’t have to be great to get started but you have to get started to be great.” – Les Brown

A few people think that soft skills are inborn, not cultivated. It is a myth indeed. Soft skills are basically behavioral skills that you can hone by continuous reading, observation, training, practice and experience. What is needed is the acquisition of training from professional soft skills trainers. You can learn anything and everything when you are passionate. So is the case with soft skills as well.

You can acquire soft skills by involving in group activities. In addition, you need to read various books related to communication skills, leadership, team building and networking skills. These serve as basic inputs and guidelines to master soft skills. Thus reading several books along with successful involvement will help you to learn these skills. Let us look at the six fold process of acquiring soft skills.

Find out your strengths and weaknesses. Focus more on your weak areas for improvement.

Observe people closely and keenly i.e. the way people talk with others especially their approach, body language and the physical distance between them during conversation. Observation is the key to enhancing soft skills.

Create network of friends and practice soft skills. As you cannot learn swimming by mere reading books, you cannot master soft skills by reading books alone. Therefore, you need to involve yourself actively with an attitude to hone your soft skills.

Join clubs and associations where you can interact with people of same area of interest. By continuous interaction you get motivated to improve.

Attend workshops and programs related to soft skills training as it a quick way to acquire soft skills. The activities conducted by professional trainers and the information given by them are beneficial to bring out behavioral changes within you.

Finally take feedback. Continuous feedback is essential to track the status of your takeaways. Find out the weak areas where you failed and try to overcome by further involvement, interaction and practice.

Unveiled below are few more detailed ways of improving your soft skills:

You need to listen attentively and actively with positive body language by nodding your head wherever required during conversation. Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology says, “Active listening involves focusing on the moment, participating in the conversation, waiting your turn to speak, and asking for clarification when necessary.”

Always learn to empathize with others. When you empathize issues from others’ perspective almost half of the issues will be resolved automatically. It also builds bridges among the people. When in doubt, seek for clarifications and move on to conversation. Appreciate the feelings and emotions of other person by paraphrasing and repeating conversational content. It easily connects you with other person thus building a good rapport.

Avoid usage of jargon when you talk to a common person. Jargon alienates and eliminates your communication. Everybody is not expected to know the jargon of a particular sector or industry. Make your language simple, straight and neutral and free from jargon to get across the message. During conservation always look for a common ground with similar areas of interest.

Learn to lead from front. You need to walk the talk to improve your soft skills. Involvement is essential for improvement.

Keep good anecdotes and small stories in your kit. During conversation, use the same appropriately to connect with others quickly. It not only builds rapport with others but also makes you as a leader.

Learn to appreciate the disagreements among the individuals and build consensus before making any decision. Whenever there is any conflict, listen to all parties without any prejudices and arrive at the solutions amicably.

Always look at the commonalities, but not differences among the people.

Always remain cool, composed and collected during crisis. Don’t be in haste in making decisions. Look at the pros and cons and then make the decisions accordingly.

Above all, maintain ethics as these things will last forever. At times, short term gains look lucrative but will have long term negative implications and complications. When you maintain integrity and honesty, you stand tall forever.


There is no short cut to mastering, learning or improving soft skills. It requires continuous practice, learning, observation, training and experience.

You need to sharpen the saw on regular basis to remain productive and competitive in this century. The world is changing at a mind boggling pace due to rapid growth in technology. It is difficult to predict where the technology would take us to the next level. It all leads to uncertainty and complexity. Therefore, mastering soft skills help you a lot in tackling several challenges and staying you ahead of others.

Soft Skills Training - Prof.M.S.Rao

Knowledge or skills that cannot be taught, although of course there is obvious evidence that it can be learned or acquired. It may therefore be regarded as "know-how", i.e. a "knack" for doing something. - (Atherton, 1999).

Soft skills training is far away from conventional methods of training where lot of interactive activities is conducted related to behaviour. The training helps in bringing out behavioral changes among the individuals. During this training, real life environment is created and participants are trained in a simulated environment through several role plays, activities, exercises and participation.


Soft Skills Training helps people develop competencies and capabilities. It develops and strengthens several work related skills making them competent and confident in handling tasks effectively and efficiently.

It brings out behavioral changes among the trainees so that they develop interpersonal, communication, team building skills and leadership skills. It helps them in enhancing productivity and performance at the workplace. In case of students, the training helps them to acquire employability skills so that they can get employment easily.

Training Methodology:

The process of training program involves several role plays, group activities, exercises, management techniques and feedback and Kirkpatrick’s concept of evaluation for takeaways. The process depends on the profile and the requirement of audiences. It is essential to bring the participants out of their comfort zones through effective interaction and participation. The practical interaction helps the participants in energizing and activating themselves.

The training gets people thinking, gives the new abilities and capabilities and enhances their self-awareness and self-worth by discovering and developing. The trainers should develop their own tried and tested tools and techniques drawn from their industry or corporate experience. The training methodology should be based on experiential learning where a facilitating learning environment should be created for better takeaways.

The training methodology must include interactive sessions, role-plays, games, practical exercises, questionnaires and giving feedback. In addition, the training sessions must include psychometric tests that give insights and ideas to the learners on the areas to be developed.

An ideal one week Soft Skills workshop for students should contain below topics:

• What are soft skills and its importance
• Understanding communication
• Body language
• Active listening
• Socializing and interaction
• Hidden data of communication
• Team building skills and stages in formation of teams
• Role plays and activities for team building
• Group discussions
• Interview skills
• Decision making
• Presentation skills with exercises
• Corporate etiquette
• Business ethics
• Mentoring, coaching and counseling
• Takeaways

An ideal Soft Skills workshop for working employees should have the below items:

• Communications Skills
• Assertive Skills
• Behavior Management or Interpersonal Skills
• Emotional Intelligence
• Personality Development
• Managerial Skills
• Time Management
• Stress Management
• Business Etiquettes
• Team Building
• Leadership
• Mentoring
• Managerial/Supervisory Skills
• Conflict Management
• Email/Telephone Etiquette
• Negotiating Skills
• Creative Thinking
• Networking Skills,
• Business Communication
• Entrepreneurial Skills
• Feedback and Takeaways

The above content is only tentative and it depends on the level of management and also the experience of executives. In fact, any training program needs to be tailored and customized as per the needs and profile of audiences.

Role of Soft Skills Trainers:

The trainers should be specialized in assessing training needs, designing, developing, delivering, administering and even evaluating corporate training solutions. It is essential to blend technology with traditional methods, problem solving tools and techniques, communication skills, promotional skills through practical training.

The essential characteristics to become trainers are:

Communication skills, domain knowledge, handling the questions, ability to align the answers of the participants in tune with the standard responses. Besides,
• Confidence
• Facing huge crowd
• Presence of mind
• Tact
• Pleasing personality
• High energy levels
• Industry experience
• Cheerfulness
• Analytical, incisive, logical, and sound observation
• Jack-of-all-trades and master of a particular domain and above all
• Passion to share experience and expertise with others.

The trainers should be able to observe and correctly interpret what is happening before, during and after the training. They should be imaginative and must surely possess the ability to think on the feet and tackle situations. They must have the ability to encourage others to go beyond their current level of performance. To achieve this, the trainers should be willing to share experiences and expertise and invest time for the sake of others and the organization. They must strongly believe that people are capable of higher performance. They should enjoy working with people rather than expecting to take credit for improvements in others.


Soft Skills training has to be made compulsory in every educational institution from degree level onwards to equip employability skills when they complete their academic curriculum. The industry should also provide this training program from time to time enhance effectiveness of their employees. To sum up, everyone should know that like learning, training is also a life-long process for bringing all round development for individuals and institutions.

Monday, January 25, 2010

William Rothschild on GE and Strategic Leadership - Prof.M.S.Rao

Dear friends,

Kindly follow the link http://www.strategyleader.com/ which is related to strategic leadership. It is an amazing blog covering various aspects of strategic leadership with a special emphasize on GE.

You may also read his book titled "The Secret to GE's Success". Given below are the commentaries:

"Bill Rothschild's incisive analysis captures the "pearls" of decisions and wisdom that underpin General Electric, one of the century's enduring success stories"- Mylle Mangum..CEO IBT Enterprises.

"Bill Rothschild has created a book that is as consuming as a novel by using the GE story and at the same time, a hands-on workbook to evaluate yourself and your businesses." Rich Spriggle, Vice President- Human Resources- Dana Corporation.

"This book is a must read for the student, teacher, manager, executive and anyone who is interested in how an organization can not only survive, but thrive in a world of constant change, challenge, opportunity and threat. It is a lucid, penetrating, clear, well-written page turner." Warren J. Keegan, Distinguished Professor, Lubin School of Business, Pace University.

"I read " The Secret to GE's Success" cover-to-cover. It is well written and very instructive contribution to the management literature. I will never think of LATIN only as a subject I failed miserably in high school. Congratulations." David Hawkins, Lovett-Learned Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School.

"The best, latest and most interesting insider revue of what has made General Electric the great enterprise it still is and why in these times...Lessons for all companies" Robert Jones, retired GE executive.

"William E. Rothschild's book, The Secret to GE's Success is a very good read.. even for laypeople like myself who are not versed in management strategies. It captures your interest and holds it from beginning to end". Patricia O'Neill, free lance writer.

Great Success


Friday, January 22, 2010

“Leadership is the lifeblood of any successful organization. It is essential to line up their leaders in the pipeline to overcome any organizational

“Leadership is the lifeblood of any successful organization. It is essential to line up their leaders in the pipeline to overcome any organizational eventualities as well as to ensure organizational effectiveness and excellence.” – Prof.M.S.Rao, Trainer, Teacher and Author

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

“Success Is All About Smart Work, Hard Work and Network” – Prof.M.S.Rao

How do you achieve success? Everyone is eager to know the formula for success. If the formula is known everyone will attain success. There are number of formulae for success. Here is one of the formulae for success which is a three pillar approach where you need to bank on hard work, smart work and network to scale greater heights of success.

Hard work is all about the ability to put in efforts and energies quantitatively. That means, putting efforts with less emphasis on planning and focus. It pays off sometimes. Smart work is all about qualitative efforts and energies with greater emphasis on planning and focus. Look at a small story that differentiates smart work from hard work.

Two persons by name, Ken and Ben were asked to chop the tree and the timeframe fixed was an hour. Ken took the axe and began chopping the tree at the trunk. However, Ben took some time for sharpening the axe and chopped the tree within 45 minutes while Ken was still chopping at the trunk. When we look at the both it becomes clear that Ken adopted hard work while Ben believed in smart work.

To elaborate further, hard work emphasizes on efficiency and smart work on effectiveness. Hard workers do the things right and smart workers execute right things. Both hard work and smart work are essential and its application is contextual.

The third pillar for your success is network which we often neglect. Sometimes who you know is more important than what you know. People may have lot of potential but if they don’t have right contacts they may not excel in their lives. Therefore, network helps you keep in the right place at the right time. Mere having network alone will not sustain forever. Ultimately it is your talents, abilities and both hard work and smart work will keep you going great forever in your life.

Students should learn to maintain alumni links and join associations and clubs of their area of interest. One fine day you will find a friend of yours who reached higher position handholding you and taking you to the tipping point.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

“Do You Think Out-Of-The-Box?” – Prof.M.S.Rao

Dear friends,

Do you think out-of-the-box? If so, please read this small story of Anthony and post your comments directly on the Blog itself as it helps others in appreciating your ideas. I will come out with solutions later.

Anthony was an ethical entrepreneur with vast experience. He was bankrupt in business due to the external political problems in the host country leaving him insolvent. However he did not lose his heart as entrepreneurs are basically brave hearted.

He returned to his country and requested for help from couple of close friends. They refused to help as they knew that extending their hands was like betting on the dead horse. However a childhood friend, Robert came forward to lend him 100 bags of sugar with each bag containing 100 kilograms for a price of one dollar per kilogram. But Robert imposed a condition that the amount should be paid within a week. If the goods were not sold completely, the left over unsold stock along with the cash had to be refunded. Anthony had agreed to take 100 bags full of sugar as per the terms and conditions of Robert.

He started selling the stocks of sugar in loose quantity at the cost of one dollar per kilogram. That means at the cost price. He liquidated the stocks and paid back the amount to Robert regularly within a week. He did in this way regularly. Did Anthony get any profit out of it or not? If so, what were the other advantages out of such transactions for a businessperson? Just thinkkkkkkkkkkkkk

Monday, January 11, 2010

“Aamir Khan’s ‘3 Idiots’ About Indian Education”- Prof.M.S.Rao

“The real process of education should be the process of learning to think through the application of real problems.” - John Dewey

I enjoyed watching the Aamir Khan’s film ‘3 Idiots’ which is really thought provoking and highlights about the present Indian education system. Aamir’s performance was amazing in the film. Aamir is very choosy about his roles and assignments. As expected he delivered his best and proved that he always strives for perfection. He cultivated his own brand over a period of time. He is always different with an exclusive brand image and audience.

The film criticizes the glaring anomalies in the Indian education system which needs to be reinvented. It highlights the challenges in our present education which emphasizes on rote learning and memory. The film is an eye opener for parents, teachers and educational institutions to know the real pulse of students and act accordingly.

There are several takeaways from this movie which, of course, have already been mentioned in this blog often. You may read my postings in this blog on education about the present fate of education system in India. I am sure you must also be aware of these challenges.

What makes the movie different is the way the life of students is presented to reach common man by adding all elements like comedy, tragedy, love, emotions, and feelings. The film is blend of education and entertainment. Precisely, it is edutainment. Let us look at few takeaways from this film.

• Pursue your passions. Don’t let your passions be diverted or dictated by others.
• Parents should understand and appreciate the areas in which their children are really interested and capable of excelling.
• Suicide is not the solution. Look for avenues to come out of the problem. Don’t brood too much about problems. Instead, look for solutions for every problem.
• Don’t quit but stay on to your passions however tough the path might be.
• Don’t excessively worry about employment. Look how much pleasure do you get while working? Once you know what gives you enjoyment while working, you don’t feel that you are working any more.
• Always contribute your best without looking for returns.
• Follow the simple and straight approach rather beating around the bush.
• Finally, whenever you are faced with problems console yourself by saying that ‘All is Well’.

The film provides hope for Indian students where they can pursue their dreams as per their passions. It is an outstanding and message oriented movie for everyone especially for parents, educators and institutions to empathize with students so that they can excel in their area of interest. It is good for them and society as a whole.

To conclude in the words of Aamir Khan, "The Indian education system should encourage the spirit of enquiry in a child. Rote learning and the grading system should be done away with. I believe that if you want to learn something you will find a way to learn it. Institutes should be flexible in the manner in which they teach students rather than follow a rigid curriculum."

Sunday, January 10, 2010

"Is KCR Riding the Telangana Tiger?" - Prof.M.S.Rao

"One cannot have any respect or regard for men who take the position of the reformer and then refuse to see the logical consequences of that position, let alone following them out in action." - B. R. Ambedkar

Telangana Rastriya Samiti (TRS) leader, K.Chandrasekar Rao’s threat of fast unto death forced the Central Govt. to declare the initiation of a separate Telangana State. Nobody anticipated that it would open the Pandora’s Box. Nobody expected that there would be stiff opposition from Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema who are averse to disintegration of Andhra Pradesh. Even KCR might have not expected the fallout of the fast unto death. When he began the fast, things were under his control. However when he broke the fast immediately by taking the juice, a few students did not appreciate KCR and he was forced to resume fast. By then KCR realized that he was riding the tiger.

The Telangana issue divided the people and political parties on regional lines which is unprecedented where politicians of all political parties of Coastal and Rayalaseema submitted their resignations. All these developments compelled Chidambaram to retract his statement by declaring that all parties would be involved in taking the Telangana issue forward.

The people of Telangana have been craving for a separate state for more than 50 years where these people have different culture although they speak Telugu like their counterparts in Andhra and Rayalaseema. The demand is basically because the region has not developed on par with other regions and there is disproportionate allocation of jobs for Talanganites in the State government. Although Andhra Pradesh had Chief Ministers hailing from Telangana region initially, they rarely focused on the development of this region resulting into regional imbalances. Adding fuel to the fire are the politicians who want to hit the limelight to boost their sagging political fortunes in the name of Telangana. Currently the situation has gone to the extent where Telugus developed mutual hatred and suspicion based on regional lines because of narrow minded politicians of all these regions.

It is rightly said that below average individuals talk about individuals, average individuals emphasize on issues and above average individuals focus on ideas. In this context, it is essential to look at the issue objectively to find out where the real problem lies.

When we look at the complaint of major jobs being occupied by Coastal Andhrites and Rayalaseemites, let us make a provision to allocate jobs proportionately based on the strength of the people of the region without compromising the quality of service. Focus on the development of this region where the people can grow economically. The leaders of all these regions should sit together, find out the reasons for backwardness and chalk out strategies to develop the region.

You cannot get along with a spouse who is unwilling to live with you. When it is clear that separation is the only solution, it is advisable to separate amicably rather than living together and fighting all the times. There should not be any ruptures and ill-will among the people regionally once separation takes place smoothly. These people will unite tomorrow emotionally because they are all Telugus as it is the common thread connecting them.

The issue is a delicate one and it needs to be handled with care and caution. It is like division of property where mother has three sons – Telanganites, Andhrites and Rayalaseemites and all are equal to her. In fact, no mother likes the separation of her children.

Water sharing is the major issue of concern for all. Issues have to be clearly defined. For instance, who shares what and at what proportions? Let there be smooth transition period where the people of Coastal Andhra and Royalaseema invested in Hyderabad who never expected division of the state. Let there be compensation to these two regions proportionately with capital location and capital allotment and investment. It is essential to give time-frame for their establishment and smooth transition.

Role of Students:

Students have to focus on their studies first as lot of time has already been wasted by this time due to bandhs. They should not become puppets in the hands of politicians. They should realize that leaders are not dying in fasts and bandhs but few of their fraternity.

Students of all regions should stay away from active politics as they have a long way to go. They need to focus on their careers currently not on politics. If they are so serious about a career in politics, they can take up the same after completion of their academic education.


First of all, it is necessary to restore peace and tranquility. Lot of damage has already been done to the State in the name of strikes and Bandhs. People should realize that they are paying for the damage of public property by way of taxes to government.

If children and students don’t concentrate on academic studies they may lose one academic year. To sum up it is essential to create a favorable climate for creating a mechanism based on mutual consensus either for staying united or for a viable division of State.

Sarva Jano Sukino Bhavantu. Let people of all regions live in peace and prosperity.